The doctor returned and told Jessi and her family that the hospital was not equipped to handle her situation. They made calls to Piedmont, Emory & Kennestone Hospitals on her behalf. Whichever returned the call first was where the ambulance was to take her. She was terrified. Piedmont was the first hospital to return the call (still familiar).
She arrived at Piedmont Atlanta late on a Friday night alone. She wanted her husband home with her son Avery (13 at the time). Her best friend from middle school and younger sister were waiting in the room for her when she was taken in. The hospital immediately started her on Keppra for seizures and a few various other medications. She got very little rest that night, knowing she was on the oncology floor, but not yet knowing why.
The following morning , her neurosurgeon came in and spoke about her options while awaiting brain surgery and gathered her insurance information.
After a discussion with the neurosurgeon, it was decided it would be best for her to wait there to have the surgery and the neurosurgeon would work her in to his schedule ASAP. The urgency stemmed from the tumor, benign or not, it had to come out or her seizures would continue until her untimely death.
While waiting for the surgery, she had numerous visitors, phone calls, and text messages. She also went through physical therapy to help her begin walking with a walker due to weakness on her left side caused by the tumor pressing on her brain.
A few days later she had the brain surgery successfully removing the tumor. Unfortunately a sliver of the drill bit remained in her skull afterwards. This was confirmed by a CT scan and was removed the next morning.
Like many newly diagnosed patients, she didn't remember anything about the second surgery. Pathology and other tests were done which led to the worst conversation she could imagine. She was given the diagnosis of Stage IV NSCLC. A few days later, she left the hospital to return to her "new normal". This was just the beginning of her hard journey.
She then went trough radiation to the brain as a precaution. During this time she fell in the shower and broke her collar bone on the left side but was thankful it wasn't her head, which was still slowly healing.
After learning she had lung cancer, she got her hopes up that part of her lung could be removed to remove the cancer, leaving her cancer free for as long as possible. She had a PET scan and with her husband, Johnny, she went to meet with a cardio thoracic surgeon at Emory. This is when she learned the cancer had metastasized not only from the lung to her brain, but also to her lymph nodes and right arm making her an ineligible candidate for surgery. She was absolutely devastated. While reeling from this new information, it was decided that she would need to go on conventional chemotherapy.
After having her part placed and two chemo infusions, her oncologist ordered another CT scan which showed progression. It was at this point she and her husband frankly asked the oncologist how much time she had left. By this time it was April of 2016 and she was told she had 1.5 - 2.5 year approximately.
It was at this time she began to get her affairs in order. She had to prepare for the worst case scenario. She did her advanced directive, banking paperwork, and let her loved ones know of her final wishes.
After the chemo failed, she became a candidate for Opdivo, which she has been on ever since and feels like it is saving her life. She said she knows that when God is ready for her, she will understand that, she just isn't in a hurry to get there. She has her family to live for. This December 3rd will be her 3 year cancerversary. And, although she speaks of the experience in first person, she humbly says it was "we" who are enduring this, her family